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Lettings agents

Contract with letting agent

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Before your letting agent will begin to act on your behalf, you must normally enter into a legally binding agreement with them.

The contract that you have with them will normally place a number of responsibilities on you as the landlord, which you should be aware of before you enter into the agreement.

These often include:

  • Making sure that the property is ready to let, by cleaning, tidying, fixing appliances and removing any articles that are not to be used in the property.
  • Provision of keys.
  • Provision of building, contents and liability insurance.
  • Ensuring the upkeep of the fabric of the property.
  • Repair of utilities such as plumbing and heating.
  • Arranging for final gas, electricity or telephone bills to be sent to the current tenants' forwarding address prior to vacating the property to let.
  • Keeping the structure of the property insured for full the reinstatement value (including fixtures, furnishings and other contents where appropriate).
  • Providing the tenant and the lettings agent with keys.
  • Ensuring that all furniture, furnishings, appliances and apparatus left in the property comply with the appropriate regulations.
  • Provide a landlord's gas safety check certificate for the property and leave a copy with each tenant and the lettings agent.

And if expressly required by the company:

  • Providing a copy of mortgage lender's consent to let the property.
  • Providing a copy of the landlords consent for sub-letting if your property is a leasehold.

Paying the agent
Be clear at the outset about how much you are contracted to pay the agent and consult your solicitor if you are in any doubt about any aspect of the contract. Don't be afraid to negotiate, especially if you have, or intend to acquire, several properties.

Agents like to be paid as soon as the agreement has been signed, and in advance, but this is one point where you can quite often resist them. You can point towards cashflow problems, especially if you are letting out multiple properties, or the possibility of tenants leaving before the term of the agreement is complete. You should press for payment of fees in monthly, quarterly, or six monthly arrears.

Normally, you will need to give the agent notice in writing at least two months before the end of a tenancy if you do not wish to renew the tenancy agreement or have the property re-let. If you do want to continue beyond the end of a tenancy, you may well be required to pay a renewal admin fee of up to 50 for a renewal, as well as continued payment of fees.

Finally, look out for a sneaky clause that entitles the lettings agent to a percentage of the selling price should you at any time (even after the expiry of the tenancy agreement) sell the property to the tenant or any member of the tenant's family.

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